Mrs. Saint and the Defectives: A Novel – By Julie Lawson Timmer

~ GENERAL TAKE [MILD SPOILERS] ~

I read Mrs. Saint and the Defectives in July when it was available as one of the selections for Amazon Prime’s Kindle First program. Every month, Amazon Prime members can pick out one title from the handful offered and download it for free thirty days before it debuts publicly. It is one of my particular favorite perks of the Prime program.

I chose this title, as it seemed one right up my alley. It sounded fun, light, and quirky enough to de-stress me and set me up for a positive month. I was not wrong.

The titular character, Mrs. Saint, is a powerhouse of a woman with firm opinions on things like being neighborly, families eating together, and teenage boys and dogs. You know– controversial stuff. I could not help but love her immediately. But then, I loved every one of the characters in this book. The author, Julie Lawson Timmer, does a fantastic job of breathing life into them all. Besides mere life, she bestows each with a charm, grace, and personality. I know people such as these.

Markie, a recent divorcée, and her teenage son Jesse become next door neighbors to the irascible elderly woman and a rag-tag bunch she calls “defectives.” The dance that ensues between the overstepping neighbor and the reticent, retreating Markie is something to behold.

The so-called “defectives” are an awkward bunch of lovely people like ourselves and probably everyone we know. No one escapes pain and woundedness in this life. Some merely hide it better than others, if you ask me. Brokenness does not mean one is “defective”– just human in an imperfect world.

The author has an impressive command of language and narrative. I read the book through nearly in one sitting. Ms. Timmer obviously knows people. With a few deft sentences, she made me feel I understood even the lesser characters well. I had a stake in them and their growth and struggles.

If she were to write a sequel, I would buy it and read it with anticipation. The ending was a mixed bag to me. Ultimately, I like what occurred for most of the characters. There was a development, a revelation, that I felt was not necessary to the story, but others may well disagree.

 

~ MORE PERSONAL TAKE – [MEDIUM SPOILERS] ~

 

Mainly, I enjoyed at least the first 90% of the book very much. I smiled often and even laughed aloud. Other times, I found myself “coaching” the characters as though they would hear me and fall into line. [Why do I do that– ever?]

Knowing her neighbor had lots of wisdom, why did Markie not keep her stubborn attitude in check? Why did Mrs. Saint deliver her “advice” in the same matter-of-fact way? Did she not realize that “people do not care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” Had she not heard that you “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” sometime in her life?

So, I would have preferred if a few certain characters might have been less reactive and stubborn. It became a bit frustrating– though true-to-life to some degree– as we can “miss” each other even with the best of intentions.

I have read many lighthearted books lately in which the last chapters took on a vastly more profound and somber subject or tone. There was some warning [of a sort] when I looked back over the stories in detail. However, they felt disjointed and out of step with the rest of the narrative.

Much to my chagrin, Mrs. Saint and the Defectives wound up this way. My thought on the semi-surprise “Cause” ending is that the book, though seemingly lighthearted in tone, is quite serious in its way. The plight of these people is enough– more than enough to my way of thinking– to give it importance, relevance and whatever other weighty “ance” word you can imagine. This tale is about the human condition.

There is no end of books written about the subject that is broached in the last pages about a certain character’s back story. I would not discourage significant themes. I find them when others may not, in fact. This tale of a pushy but well-meaning neighbor with a houseful of eccentrics under her roof and their dealings with the near agoraphobic single mom and her angsty son is ENOUGH.

The ending seems a reach in a few ways. The explanation feels like a betrayal of the personality and traits of the title character. It does not go with what came before. Also, it seems like a reach — like that of an overachiever holding a pen, who always pushes for more and is rarely satisfied– and never believes that others without that ultra-critical eye, simply marvel at the beauty that was inherent in their words already.

I wish I could have assured the author that just as these quirky, beautiful people she lovingly detailed in these pages have intrinsic worth and are not “defective,” so too would this book be worthy enough without the ultra-serious turn. If it is not broken, it does not need fixing.

What Julie Lawson Timmer has done with her work has touched me greatly, without a doubt, and I am grateful for it. I just would have liked to have maintained the same particular sentiment and tone from the start through to the story’s conclusion. As this is art, though, it is the beholder’s eye that matters. Your perspective may differ.

Here is the link to download the Kindle version of Mrs. Saint and the Defectives on Amazon.

 

picserve

Advertisements

Funny Glass Coffee Mug – By Creative Lifestyles

This Creative Lifestyles Funny Glass Coffee Mug’s listed capacity is 13 oz. However, 10 oz fills the receptacle nearly to the brim. The cup reasonably holds about 9 oz of liquid without much fear of spilling. About 8-10 oz is the perfect size for me, so the smaller size does not bother me.

The glass is quite thick. You will not burn your fingers handling your hot beverage. The handle holds all of my fingers if I want, but is most comfortable for me with three fingers inside the handle, while the thumb is on top and the pinky on the bottom for full support.

This mug is excellent for cocoa, coffee or tea. The imprint is repeated on both sides so that everyone can see the words. It shows off your funny side and just might strike a bit of trepidation in others so you can down a good bit of caffeine before they will start to bother you.

If the sentiment behind the words does not fit your personality, we all know someone like this in our lives, don’t we? 😊

I like glass mugs, as they conduct heat well. The drink keeps fairly hot alone, but I often use a beverage warmer to keep mine warm for an extended time.

The cup I received has a lettering placement that is slightly off from the vertical arrangement on the other side. It is just a few millimeters different, but it is noticeable at certain times.

The cup is food grade and has no BPA, as it is glass. Cleaning is easy whether you hand wash or put it in a dishwasher. I have done both without any problem. Microwaves are no problem for your glass, either. Personally, I have not done this, however.

This Creative Lifestyles Funny Glass Coffee Mug has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so there is no risk.

Should you wish to get one for yourself or a loved one or coworker, here is the Amazon product page.

Here is my original Amazon review for your perusal. I hope you like it! 🙂

 

Lightlife’s Smart Dogs

I have tested a few brands of Veggie Hot Dogs over the years. These Smart Dogs by Lightlife stack up well against the other contenders in that class – which is where they belong– if you ask me.

They look like a hot dog, smell somewhat like one, but they do not cook up the same. On my low-fat kitchen counter grill, Smart Dogs bubble up oddly.

Honestly, this product will not likely wow meat eater or most kids. These, taste-wise, just do not have the flavor of a regular all-beef hot dog. The Smart Dogs are a bit more reminiscent of a turkey dog, perhaps. Adding the usual condiments to these and placing them in buns did nothing to make it seem more like the typical Frankfurter. In fact, the addition was a detraction in my opinion.

When I stopped trying to make them taste like all-beef hot dogs, then I enjoyed them much more. I made a suitable marinade for them consisting mainly of blended veggies. They were better when I thought of them as another entity entirely. I highly recommend a bit of experimentation. It was fun exercising a bit of creativity, too.

Bottom line, I would have given these Smart Dogs a 5 or 6 rating as a knockoff hotdog. As a healthier, lighter, non-meat product, I give it an 8 or 9. Maybe you have a family reunion or other event going on soon. Do not be afraid to offer these to Vegans, Vegetarians, or the health-conscious, etc.

These Lightlife Smart Dogs are good sources of protein, vegan-certified, and non-GMO. I love that these have healthier ingredients than do the castoffs of the meat-packing industry! I rarely eat hot dogs for concern for quality and safety. #AD #GotItFree #Healthier #Lightlife #SmartDogs #SocialNature

 

APEKX B1 Bluetooth Earbuds – Immersive Sound— Even From Lower Volumes

These Apekx  B1 Bluetooth Earbuds have sets of S/M/L butterfly ear hooks so that they fit nearly everyone. They are comfortable in my ears and stay put as well or better than others I have owned.

On a charge, you get over five hours of time to talk or listen. If you run them completely down, they charge quickly enough. It takes just around sixty minutes. The standby time is supposed to be 180 hours; which is incredible to me.

The most important factor is the sound quality. I mainly listen to music, but occasional podcasts and videos, too. The sound is full, with good bass and clarity. It is an immersive experience. Ambient noise gets filtered well. My daughter and I tested them together. When she wore them at a normal volume for her, I could not hear the song she was playing. The same was true when I had them on. Also, we could not make out what the other person said when we had music going. That said, of course, these are not the earphones to wear if you need to be aware of your surroundings.

These are the pair I wear when I can just lose myself in the music for a while– whether I am working at my desk, performing other tasks around the house, dancing, or relaxing. Music has always been the saving grace in my life. I take it seriously.

Apekx might just get that the soundtracks of our lives mean a great deal to us.

I suggest gifting this pair to someone who has a penchant for turning the volume too high because they want to hear everything and get an immersive experience from their media. They might just turn it down and save their hearing possibly.

These Apekx Bluetooth Headphones come with both a 30-day money back guarantee and a one-year warranty.

 


If you are interested in seeing more, here is the Amazon product page.

Here is my original review, I hope you find it helpful. 🙂

ROOROO Tri-Spinner Fidget Focus Toy

The RooRoo Tri-Spinner Fidget Gadget is an EDC [Every Day Carry] toy. I had no idea until I did some research that there are well over seventy unique styles and types of these fidget- focus spinners. There are more than thirty options from which to choose when it comes to the chain and cube varieties. It is the phenomenon of the year.

Those who might elicit benefits from fidget spinner use include people with: ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Aspergers and Autism– and those are just the ones beginning with the letter “A.” Bad habits are easier to overcome for some. Enhanced focus is a benefit for me. Downtime is enjoyable.

This RooRoo Fidget Spinner Toy is a solid competitor among the field with its 608 inline skate bearings and ceramic body. The body design is the commonest on the market. My model came without the “ROO” lettering on the caps, which I do not mind in the slightest.

The spins are impressive with all of them lasting more than three minutes in my time trials.

Time Trials – Flat Surface

1 – 3 minutes, 10 seconds

2 – 3 minutes, 20 seconds

3 – 3 minutes, 14 seconds

4 – 3 minutes, 23 seconds

As you can see, the spins were amazingly consistent. I tried to give it a decent spin but surely did not put much strength into it. I wanted to get a baseline only. Most people would tend to get longer results.

Where this one shines is how effortlessly and smoothly it glides and that it has nearly no noise except a satisfying little whir. It cannot be much louder than a hummingbird’s wings. When used as intended, disturbing other people seems unlikely.

This RooRoo Fidget Spinner is not the glitziest model out there; it has no lights, nor multiple colors, for example. I do not require any of that myself. This EDC is a good, reliable spinner. Had someone told me I would be collecting “toys,” I would not have believed it. I finally found a trend I enjoy.

The RooRoo Tri-Spinner has a lifetime money back guarantee, so there is no risk.

 

 

 

This is the Amazon product page for more information on this spinner.

Here is my original Amazon review. I hope it is helpful :-).

Ralix Anxiety Stress Relief Fidget Cube

This Ralix Anxiety Stress Relief Fidget Cube was my first of its type. I did not know quite what to expect but knew it was becoming popular. These cubes can be useful for a host of maladies and conditions. I am an adult with ADD and some anxiety from time to time.

The cube has a rubberized feel to it, which is pleasant in itself. The six sides each have a different feature for fidgeting and for increasing focus. The colors work well together, and the look is sharp.

The cube’s six sides:

1) Joystick ***

2) Switch   ****

3) Rotating Disc ***

4) “Dice” – 5 buttons – 2 silent; 3 sound **

5) Rotating Ball / 3 suitcase-style dials **** / *

6) Thumb Rest ***

 

My favorite activities are the switch and the steel ball.

Suggestions:

The joystick could be pressed down for another activity.

I would prefer that the five dice buttons would either all sound or be silent

The three spinners would have at least a little tension to them.

I would not recommend that children take this to school and use it in a classroom situation, as some functions such as the switch are loud enough to be a distraction and get the student in trouble.

If you are interested in learning more or purchasing this cube, here is the Amazon product page.

Here is my original Amazon review. I hope you find it helpful :-).

 

 

 

Rackaster Fidget Hand Spinner Toy

My daughter and I have checked out about a dozen spinner focus toys so far. This model made a great impression on us.

Fidget toys have become a hot commodity and frequent topic of discussion. You have probably heard about the list of benefits elicited from their use. ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Aspergers and Autism are just the “A-list” of examples. Bad habits are easier to overcome for some. Enhanced focus is a benefit for me. Downtime is enjoyable.

This red spinner is an EDC [Every Day Carry] toy. I had no idea until I did some research that there are about sixty styles and types of fidget spinners. There are more than thirty options from which to choose when it comes to the chain and cube varieties. It has got to be the phenomenon of the year.

This Rackarster Fidget Hand Spinner Toy is a solid competitor among the field with its 608 inline skate bearing, ABS plastic body, and hybrid ceramic (non-3D printed) bearing. The body design is the most common one on the market. The spins are pretty impressive with most being over two minutes and over three not being too uncommon in my experience. Where this one shines for me is how effortlessly it glides and has little noise except a satisfying little whir.

I use this by spinning it in my hand with my fingers, on a flat surface and even on a pencil or pen after I have taken the middle caps off. Personally, I get a focus boost out of this Rackarster Fidget Tool. I have a bit of adult ADD going on. Having one of these gadgets handy just seems to get me to concentrate better and be less scattered in my thinking. Maybe it is even almost a placebo effect based on that when I use it; my intention is to become more focused. Whatever it is, I will take the benefit.

The Rackarster is not the glitziest model out there, it has no lights nor multiple colors, but I do not need any of that myself. This EDC is a good spinner whether it’s your first or twenty-first piece. Had someone told me I would be collecting “toys,” I would not have believed it. I finally found a trend I enjoy.

If you are interested in checking out this quality fidget spinner, here is the link.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cosmic Spinner Fidget Toy

My daughter and I have checked out eight spinner focus toys so far. This model made it to the coveted #1 place with ease.

Fidget toys have become a hot commodity and frequent topic of discussion. You have probably heard about the list of benefits elicited from their use. ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Aspergers and Autism are just the “A-list” of examples. Bad habits are easier to overcome for some. Enhanced focus is a benefit for me. Downtime is a bit more enjoyable, too.

This is an EDC [Every Day Carry] toy. I had no idea until I did some research that there are at least fifty-five styles and types of fidget spinners. Then there are other fidget toys such as chains and cubes. You have more than thirty options from which to choose. It is a phenomenon!

The Cosmic Spinner Rainbow Fidget Toy is the cream of the crop of the eight spinners that my daughter and I have tested out so far. The look is among the best with the rainbow effect looking great, whether stationary or in use.

The durability is excellent as it is stainless steel and has a fast 606 ball bearing. It has real weight to it which is perfect for stability. I can flick it on my desk without having to hold it down as some models need. These traits are more for teens or adults. Parents and caregivers should consider if the child is old enough for this toy, as it could conceivably cause damage if mishandled. There are no sharp edges to worry about, however. Even though it is heavy metal, it does not pose a threat to even small fingers.

The size is ideal for single-handed play. Even my daughter who has tiny hands can use it in just her left or right hand. The most common size spinner is too large to do much that way even for me. The speed is better than any other I own.

Spins can last a good while. Most often I see longer than 4-minute turns. While writing this review, I timed them.

Duration Trial 1: 4:26

Duration Trial 2: 4:39

Duration Trial 3: 4:39

Duration Trial 4: 4:41

As you can see, the Cosmic Spinner Rainbow Fidget Toy performed consistently well. My intent was simply to document routine results. It is capable of longer times if that is your goal.

Here to the Amazon product page if you would like to learn more.

Here is my original Amazon review. 🙂

POAO Tri-Spinner Fidget/ Focus Toy

My daughter and I have checked out eight spinner focus toys so far. This model made our top three list.

Fidget toys have become a hot commodity and frequent topic of discussion. You have probably heard about the list of benefits elicited from their use. ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Aspergers and Autism are just the “A-list” of examples. Bad habits are easier to overcome for some. Enhanced focus is a benefit for me. Downtime is a bit more enjoyable, too.

The POAO Tri-Spinner Fidget Toy was impressive from the start. With a durable ABS construction, this focus toy has heft and can take some punishment. Dropped on the floor many times, yet it is no worse for wear. It has professional inline skate 608 ceramic ball bearings. All four of the bearings are interchangeable and removable allowing for customization.

The spinner looks smart. It does not have multiple colors or lights as some do, but I think it is cool. It is plain black besides the inscription “POAO” and the steel inner and outer rings of the bearings. The center caps are removable if you wish to spin it on a pencil or a pen for another option. This focus gadget works well on any flat surface. I tend to use it on my desk. I also spin it between my index finger and thumb using either one or both hands. Sometimes I transfer the toy to either the finger or thumb, so it balances as it spins.

Of the eight spinners I own, the finger pads on this version are the best for controlling the toy. They have a texture that makes for a better grip than the slippery plastic ones. The grips help, but you will want to get used to this one before attempting tricks. I can vouch for the two-minute spin claim. It has been consistently getting spins longer than that when I have timed them.

It is slightly heavier (while slightly smaller in circumference) than the most popular size spinners. Dropping it on anything but the most padded surfaces will result in a racket. If you were thinking of sneaking it into a classroom that forbids spinners– just do not do it. The first major slip-up will result in every head turning your way. The toy itself barely makes a noise. It has a faint and strangely satisfying whir.

If you are interested in checking the POAO Tri-Spinner Fidget Toy out some more, here is the Amazon product page.

My original Amazon review appears here. So, have you tried a fidget/ focus toy yet? If not, will you give it a go?

Heiyo Stylus Fine Point Pen for Capacitive Touch Screen Devices – Silver

 

 

 

This Heiyo Stylus Fine Point Rechargeable Pen works well on my daughter’s Fire & and my Fire 8. The pen is the exact size of a new lead pencil. This writing device is only slightly heavier than the regular pencil. It is surprisingly lightweight for the look of it. It is comfortable to hold and has a balanced feel to it.

The pen comes in a box with a charging adapter and a diagram of the parts along with the shortest user manual I have ever seen. A short manual is enough here, as there is nothing too problematic about the pen operation. To start the pen, you press the start button at the top of the unit. A blue light flashes three times across the LED strip to show that it is on. After that activation, no other sign indicates whether the pen is on. Thankfully the pen will shut itself off after two-three minutes, so its charge is not worn down. You never have to worry about turning it off with this power-saving feature built-in.

The pen is compatible with iPads, iPhones, iPods, Kindles, Samsung Galaxy phones, tablets and touchscreen laptops; essentially anything that has a capacitive touch screen. I have noticed no lag when using this on my Kindle. I use it for routine tapping here and there, for simple games, and for writing lists, and feel it is responsive enough overall. There was a slight learning curve for me, as nearly all of my writing is on a computer or electronic device. Seeing my handwriting at first was a bit of a fright, but the longer I use it, the better it looks again.

The stylus tip has not scratched or in any way harmed my devices, which is always a concern as they are costly to replace. I am hoping my daughter will try some art with this pen and test it out with one of her apps. Although a thin fiber fine tip [2.2mm], I use extra-fine generally. When I am making lists or writing in a word processing program or app, I adjust the chosen tip to the finest one available so that I am happier with the control over the lines and with the finished product. I wish that replacing tips was possible with the Heiyo, but it is not at this time.

To charge the stylus, just remove the end cap to reveal the Micro USB underneath. Fit the adapter over the Micro USB and plug into a charging port. The LED indicator will glow with a reddish hue. It is simple and practically fool-proof to use and keep charged for the next time.

The Heiyo Stylus comes with an 18-month warranty and customer service should you ever need it.

If you are interested, this is the link to the Amazon product page.

If you would like to check out my original Amazon review, here is the link.